Climbing for freedom
Nothing says living a happy life more than living in freedom. Too often do we feel like we are bound by rules, people and even ourselves when we live our day-to-day lives and so, we are left no choice but to scour for time to be ourselves doing things that we like. To one Hazel Rodrigues, nothing makes her feel freer than resting triumphantly atop the climbing wall in her rock climbing gym after a great climb.
“When I’m climbing, I feel free,” Hazel said, followed by a gleeful chuckle, in an interview with Actually.
Hazel’s love for the thrill of heights started as soon as she could remember. She recalls climbing the monkey bars at the playground in her primary school to sit on top and wait for her teachers to come and shout at her to get down. However, it was only in secondary school where she developed her feelings for the high elements. After having been involved in numerous climbing activities in camps in her secondary school, Hazel finally decided to do Rock Climbing as her co-curricular activity in her first year in Singapore Polytechnic.
To Hazel, rock climbing is a dynamic sport. She explains that, though the routes are static, it is never the same. For one, there are route setters that rotate the routes every month to add variety to the rock climbing experience. On another note, the climbers are free to choose however they want to climb so that “No two climbers will have the same experience on the same wall,” according to Hazel.
And in rock climbing, you would be well-aware of that statement as the climbing community is quite tight-knit in Singapore given their few numbers, according to Hazel.
“When you watch videos of people climbing, you will definitely recognise people,” Hazel commented.
Similarly, any climber or climbers-to-be who would seek to learn from other climbers will most likely find themselves in the company of those that are willing to teach them, as they pretty much flock around the base of every climbing wall, ready to help however they can.
One of the main aspects that motivate Hazel to continue climbing is her yearning for achievements. To her, nothing beats the satisfaction of topping a hard route after relentlessly attempting to inch your way up, however you can, and finally plant your foot at the top.
And, it does get competitive. But not to the point that people tear at each other’s hair, no. In fact, according to Hazel, it is really easy to make friends when climbing. There are always people ready to help, should you need it. And, even in competitions, competitors cheer each other on in hopes of seeing their fellow climbers get to the top knowing how great the feeling of topping a route is. Not to mention how it is probably always a lot more fun to climb with friends than by yourself, but that would be up to the climber.
“You don’t just feel happy for yourself, you feel happy seeing others top their routes.”
Hazel continues to see herself developing not only as a climber but as a person, as well. She has her eyes set on representing at a national level. Already, Hazel has represented the youth team but, she wishes to get into the senior team where competition for a position is tough considering the number of strong climbers around. When questioned about her prowess, she humbly described herself as “the worst of the best”. But, that’s what will drive her to keep on climbing to not only go higher but also get on top of the competition.
However, no matter what challenges come her way in the future, one thing will never change for Hazel: The feeling of freedom when climbing.
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